I spent much of my late 20s and early 30s trying to lock down all the things I thought I was supposed to have (and society expected me to have) “by the time I was 30.”
If I could sum up my late 20s, they were a mad dash to:
Find the guy → so I can date the guy → so the guy can propose → be engaged for a year → get married → be married for a year → get pregnant with the first one → have a two year break → get pregnant with the second one → live happily ever after. And all this needs to happen LIKE YESTERDAY. This exact chain of events will GUARANTEE my future happiness. Otherwise I’m LATE. My life isn’t going to end up like it’s supposed to.
Sound ridiculous? Maybe spelled out on the page, it does. But 99 out of 100 unmarried women have chased the very same timeline. Maybe you’re one of them.
I have a vivid memory of my girlfriend K.’s 30th birthday dinner. I was still 29, a few months from 30. We were at a Mexican restaurant, and many of the women celebrating were single, some recently so. We sipped our margaritas and wallowed over our impending 30s-status and what we were missing in our lives:
The man who wanted us for life. The picture perfect wedding. The perfectly-timed bun in the oven. Forget the fact we had careers, cars, condos and cash going for us. Our 30s-status covered us in a fog: our expiration date was approaching quickly, and our happy futures were dependent on finding husbands and starting families.
Those goddamn societal expectations.
Ok, back to me: It’s hard to mark the exact day my thinking changed, but I want to say it was a few months after I turned 30 (and the world didn’t end). I realized that all the effort spent trying to “lock” something down was actually working against me. And over the next few years I saw the repercussions of this thinking in my friends: women who had chased the expectations, married (and sometimes had kids with) the wrong person, because they thought they were “supposed to.” I was much better off.
And that realization set me free.
I just turned 33. I no longer force or chase relationship milestones. I’m nowhere near an engagement or a wedding, and I’m more than happy being an aunt.
And guess what; I’ll still live happily ever after. Because it’s up to me.